Example 1: I can be too critical of myself. A pattern I’ve noticed throughout my career is that I often feel I could have done more even if, objectively, I’ve done well. Earlier in my career, this led to burnout and negative self-talk. One solution I’ve implemented over the last three years is to actively pause and celebrate my achievements. Not only has this helped my own self-esteem, it has helped me genuinely appreciate and recognise my team and other support systems.
Example 2: I’m naturally shy. From high school and into my early professional interactions, it prevented me from speaking up. After being a part of a work group that didn’t meet our strategic goals two quarters in a row, I knew I owed it to my team and myself to confidently share my ideas. I joined an improv acting class. It’s fun and has really helped me overcome my shyness. I learned practical skills around leading discussions and sharing diverse perspectives. Now, in group settings, I always start conversations with the quieter folks. I know exactly how they feel and people can be amazing once they start talking.
Example 3: I default to believing that I can solve any problem on my own. This works well in some situations but in many cases, I need the help of others to overcome factors beyond my control. In one instance, last year, I was spearheading a client event that had a lot of moving parts. It wasn’t until after the event that I realised how narrowly I had pulled it off. I was trying to manage everything from the strategic plan down to the tiniest details like table settings. I did a lot of self-reflection afterwards. Since then, I’ve been training myself to take a step back before diving into problem-solving mode and identify people or groups that can be resources to me.
Skills and Habits
Example 4: I’m not familiar with the latest version of [insert name of non-critical software]. Instead, I’ve focused on [insert name of preferred software] because user-centric design has become a strong passion of mine. In my last few jobs that’s where I’ve spent time learning and growing.
Example 5: I’ve always been a procrastinator. I used to think it wasn’t such a bad habit because I was only creating stress for myself. But when I was working for XYZ Company several years ago, I was on a group project where I could see how my putting things off to the last minute created stress for everyone else. It was a wake-up call. I started creating daily schedules that held me accountable to my team and I broke the habit. It was hard at first but using the Agile process was a real breakthrough in my workflow and mind set.
Example 6: I tend to be a perfectionist and can linger on the details of a project, which can threaten deadlines. Early on in my career, when I worked for ABC Pvt. Ltd., that very thing happened. I was labouring over the details and, in turn, caused my manager to be stressed when I almost missed the deadline on my deliverables. I learned the hard way back then but I did learn. Today, I’m always aware of how what I’m doing affects my team and management. I’ve learned how to find the balance between being perfect and very good and being timely.
Example 7: Math wasn’t my strongest subject in school. To be honest, as a student, I didn’t understand how it would be applicable in my adult life. Within a few years of being in the working world, though, I realised that I wanted to take my career in a more analytical direction. At first, I wasn’t sure where to begin but I found some free online courses that refreshed the important basics for me. In my most recent job, this new foundation has enabled me to do my own goal setting and tracking. Actually, getting over the math anxiety I had when I was younger has been incredibly empowering.
Few more examples:
“I tend to be overly critical of myself. Whenever I complete a project, I can’t help but feel that I could have done more even if my work received a positive response. This often leads me to overwork myself and leaves me feeling burned out. Over the past few years, I’ve tried to take time to look at my achievements objectively and celebrate those wins. This has not only improved my work and my confidence, but it has helped me to appreciate my team and other support systems that are always behind me in everything I do. “
“I am incredibly introverted, which makes me wary of sharing my ideas in a group setting or speaking up during team meetings. I feel that I had good intentions, I just wasn’t always comfortable speaking up. After my team didn’t meet expectations on two consecutive projects, I decided to start making changes to get more familiar with sharing my ideas for the benefit of my team. I took local improv classes and started trying to get comfortable discussing my thoughts. It’s still a work in progress, but it’s something that I’ve improved dramatically over the past year.”
“I tend to want to take on complete projects all on my own without any outside help. In the past, this caused me to experience unnecessary pressure and stress. One specific example was last year when I was responsible for planning our annual event. I tried to do everything on my own, from the most substantial decisions like the venue to the tiniest things like organizing the table settings. I was so stressed leading up to the event, and I narrowly pulled it off. This taught me to take a step back and analyze when I need help. After that experience, I am trying to teach myself how to ask for help so I can keep my sanity. I’ve also found a team of people can produce a better outcome than one harrowed person. “
“I’m not familiar with the latest version of the software that you use. I’ve spent my time recently focused on generating a positive user experience and have always been willing to learn new things. Throughout my career software has always changed and I’ve always been willing to adapt to changing technology. I will put in the time it takes to learn this new software. “
“I always try to avoid confrontation, in both my personal and professional life. This caused me to compromise sometimes on the quality of my work or what I needed to complete a project just to keep the peace. This became a real problem when I became a manager. One of the most critical aspects of managing people is telling them what they need to hear and not what they want to hear. I recognized this weakness and had been actively working to voice my opinions constructively and helpfully for the betterment of the team.”
“When I’m given a task, I am very goal-oriented and work hard to complete that task. However, when new projects come across my plate, I sometimes jump right into those projects and halt work on the projects I had in progress. Having to jump between tasks, so many times throughout the day hinders my productivity and prevents me from delivering my best work. I have been using a project management tool to help me manage my tasks and my time, which has helped me become more aware of prioritization. Since implementing this project management mentality, I have only improved my efficiency and productivity.”
“I am not very good at computer applications and shortcuts. But I have obtained enough skills to do meaningful work at present. Although I deliver my work bang on time at the last moment, I must admit that my speed is slow. However, I have been taking classes and practising hard to sharpen my skills so I can work more efficiently. I really want to be a fast programmer in the future and have a better coding speed than my peers.”
“I struggle to manage my time sometimes and cut too close to the deadlines. To overcome this, I have started using post-its and hourly entries in my calendar to remind me of my tasks. To add to this, I have begun organizing my time into daily tasks, weekly tasks, and long terms tasks in order to prioritize.”
“My communication style can be sometimes blunt and harsh. Feedback is amazing but constructive feedback can make miracles happen. Hence, I am learning to reserve my judgment and write down my blunt criticism before I say it aloud. This has allowed me to communicate well and build strong professional relationships.”
“Sometimes I can be a bit too honest when I provide feedback to coworkers. My personality is naturally very straightforward and to the point, and most of my colleagues really value that, but I have learned that there are times on the job when more diplomacy is required. I took a training class on conflict management and it really opened my eyes to the need to communicate differently with different people. So now I am much better at providing constructive feedback, even if it doesn’t always come naturally.”
“I am a very hospitable person. I have always personally believed that but this has been professionally validated by my supervisor in my annual report. People have this image of HR professionals as cold and indifferent personnel, so meeting me is like a breath of fresh air for most! My greatest weakness is my Finance skills. I have not had too much exposure of the Finance end of the business but decided to take a Coursera online program on HR Finance to equip myself.”
“My greatest weakness would probably be waiting too long to ask questions to clarify the goals of a project and to make sure I’m on the right path. I noticed in one of my first coding jobs out of college that I would get an assignment and, because I assumed I should be able to work independently, I’d waste time going down a particular road that didn’t 100% align with the ultimate goal and then would have to spend additional time making changes. After it happened once or twice, I started asking my manager more questions about why we were adding a particular feature, who it was intended for, what about the previous functionality had made for a poor experience, etc. And especially for bigger projects, I would reach out when I needed a gut check to ask follow-up questions as well as to share the work I’d done so far and what I was planning to do next. In the long run, it meant I could finish projects faster and do better work.”